In my first post, I wrote about the term “networking” and about what a dirty connotation it has, but I never got into the definition of “networking” since I wanted you to actually read the series! Starting articles by defining our terms with dictionary definitions and etymology is probably not the best way to get your blog posts read, after all.
Well now that you’ve made it to the end of this series, I’m going to do the boring thing I should have done up front and define our term. The dictionary tells us that networking is the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. That’s a good enough working definition for me. The oil lobbyist I mentioned in my first post was a failure at networking because he was insincere and it was clear that no productive relationship was going to develop from that conversation. His networking approach was the networking equivalent of a cheap pick-up line one might hear in a bar. It was insincere, it was forced, and the listener’s defenses go up immediately because it makes the listener feel cheap and used. Networking isn’t about being smooth, about being slick, about being suave, but far too many people think that’s what it’s about. And it’s certainly not about using people. Networking is about being sincere, about creating productive relationships which hopefully result in you helping each other out and making new friends.
So get out there, make new friends, maintain the ones you already have and cultivate your network!
One mistake that many make is thinking that networking is only about making new relationships. Making new relationships is certainly important, but you also must maintain the network you’ve already established. So let’s say you’ve built up this nice network in the midst of your job search, getting your book published, etc. What typically happens next? If you’re like most people, you accomplish your goal and then you let your network go to pot. That’s network neglect.
Remember, these people were the people who tried helping you get to where you wanted to be in the first place. More importantly, they’re genuinely good people, so find a way to check-in periodically and be helpful and responsive to them in the future. Far too many individuals only re-acquaint themselves with their network when they need something, typically another job. At that point, their dusty old cobwebbed network may not be as responsive as it used to be. Yes, DC is a busy town and some people are too busy to make the time for close friendships, but pop in and say hello every now and then to your network.
Unfortunately common courtesy is far too uncommon these days. The most common networking neglect no-nos:
Not-working neglect #1: Not updating your network about your status
I’ve already encouraged you to keep your network informed with an Every Other Friday Email (EOFE), but I’m always surprised with how often job hunters don’t inform their network once they’ve found a job. 9 out of 10 resume forwarders agree that this is the most irritating form of network neglect. There’s nothing like discovering from a third party that a candidate’s resume that you’ve been forwarding around for the last two weeks has been in his new job for the last three weeks. This demonstrates awful follow-thru, a lack of manners and a lack of appreciation to your network. You need to inform your network once you’ve found work. Far too many people blow off their network once they’ve found their job. Besides being rude, it’s a very good way to not get their help in the future.
Not-working neglect #2: The predictable “by the way” email from a long, long lost friend
This is one of the most common forms of network neglect, word for word. I’ll just give you a sample, but they all more or less begin the same way: “Hey, how’s it going? Hope you are well. By the way, I’m interested in applying for a position at _____. Do you happen to know _____?.”
Wait a sec! When was the last time I heard from this guy? Oh yeah, two years ago…the last time he was job searching! Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t expect to be best buddies with everyone who’s looking for a little help and I’m happy to provide what I can, but once you’ve been placed in a job, send me a link to an article you’ve published, ask me if my Yankees have ditched that worthless A-Rod, or find some other excuse to occasionally keep in touch, but please find an alternative to the “by the way” email. It’s become a bit trite. And it makes me feel used. And trust me, it makes the rest of your network feel the same way, too.
Not-working neglect #3: Making it difficult for your network to reach you
If you’re in the middle of a job search and you can’t be bothered to empty your voice mail box or don’t check your email every day, you’re neglecting your network. Your network is likely busy and you’re making it difficult for them to track you down when you don’t check your messages or take several days to respond to their emails. (Not to mention that prospective employers may be trying to contact you, too!) Opportunities can vanish very quickly. When you’re networking with a specific goal in mind, you can’t take a vacation from communication. Be proactive and responsive!
Not-working neglect #4: Return the favor
You may not believe it, but the people helping you out in the beginning of your career may need a little help one day. Remember to take care of the people who helped you out and be proactive about it. Furthermore, once you’re established in a job for a few months, guess what? People are going to be contacting you, asking little old you for job help! Anyone who’s been in a job for at least a few months in DC is going to start getting requests from alums, interns, other job seekers, etc. Return the favor! It amazes me when I hear stories about people who refuse to talk to job seekers, meet with alums, etc. Yes, schedules get busy in this town, but always agree to share advice, leads, etc. with people who request it. Don’t be a snob, especially if people have helped you out in the past. When people ask for help, help them. If you’re too busy with a deadline driven project, explain the situation and ask them if you can put off the conversation for a week, but still agree to meet with them. Not returning the favor is bad form and bad karma.
Not-working neglect #5: Failing to say “thank you”
If someone assists you by sharing their time and provides cover letter and resume advice, contacts, job leads, or goes out of their way to be helpful to you, you need to acknowledge it with a thank you note. This doesn’t need to be a formal typed letter popped into the mail (although there’s no objection to that either). A simple gracious few sentence email thanking them for sharing their time and letting them know you’ll keep in touch will suffice.
Don’t underestimate the power of the words thank you. They’re not said enough anymore and as a result, they’re more meaningful and powerful words than they used to be.
Allow me to go on a tangent…In addition to thanking a prospective employer post-interview, I suggest all job hunters thank the employers post-rejection, too. Yes, send a thank you note to the prospective employer who rejected you, thanking them for taking the time to interview you, expressing your polite disappointment in hearing you weren’t selected, and asking them to keep your resume on file should other opportunities arise in the near future. How gracious is that? Very. And it’ll be very memorable, too. In fact, don’t be surprised if that office forwards your resume to other offices.
But more importantly, what you may not realize is that often in the interview process, Candidate #2 was barely edged out by Candidate #1. Basically, Candidate #2 was second choice, but by just a smidge. Often times, #1 doesn’t accept the job like the employer anticipated or backs out of the offer at the last minute or is a really bad fit for the office and only stays for a few weeks. Well, by Candidate #2 graciously sending out a “thank you for rejecting me email,” they’ve remained memorable and the employer can very easily approach #2 with minimal egg on his face and offer the job to #2 who he should have offered it to in the first place.
Remember…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Don’t forget it.
Next week….How I should have started this series, but intentionally didn’t
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is part of a series based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.
In these posts, I’ve already warned you about people who aggressively push their business cards into your unsuspecting hands and the folly of showing up at events fashionably late but I would like to emphasize a few other common networking no-nos:
Not-working #1: Neglecting to RSVP and being a “hedger”
If you’re invited to an event, you need to actually acknowledge the invitation. If someone is nice enough to invite you to an event, you need to be nice enough to respond to it. Not responding is simply rude. And guess what? Maybe is usually an option. For those of you serial un-acknowledgers on Evite or Facebook, don’t diss your host by ignoring their invitation. They put time into planning their event and actually took time to include you on that list. Yes, no, or maybe. It’s not that difficult.
And please don’t wait until the last moment to RSVP. There are far too many “hedgers” out there, those who hedge until the last minute to see if a better social opportunity will surface for them. You know who you are. There are legitimately times you don’t know what your schedule will look like for the week, but most of the time you have a good idea in advance. Don’t be a serial hedger. The host or organization needs to know how many people to expect for catering purposes, chairs, etc.
Not-working #2: Being an obnoxious name-dropper at receptions
One of the most obnoxious reception behaviors in DC is persistent name-dropping. And there are legitimate occasions for you to mention that you used to work with so-and-so on a certain project (for example, if your conversation partner brings up a news story about so-and-so). But remember that your convenient dropping into a conversation about what good buddies you and Justice Scalia are can result in intense agita when your new conversation partner asks your help in getting Nino to speak at her nephew’s high school graduation. I mean, you’re good buddies, after all, RIGHT? Everyone in this town has worked with or had a brush with someone famous at some point. Just don’t be obnoxious about it—if you are, you very well may just get called out.
Not-working #3: Frequently looking over the shoulder of your conversation partner
One of the most frequent complaints I hear about receptions is the frequency with which other people look over their shoulder. Usually it’s someone keeping an eye out for a friend that they’re expecting to run into there, but it’s misinterpreted as “You keep looking around the room for someone better than me.” DC is an incredibly insecure town with insecure people. Be aware of this and allow your tardy friend to pick you out of the crowd (and not vice versa) when she arrives to the reception. Looking around while someone else is talking is bad form. Do your best to avoid it.
Now I realize that some conversations can drag on a bit long and you may legitimately have somewhere to go or someone else you must talk to at a reception. In that case, politely excuse yourself with some variation of the following: “I’ve got a few friends here that I still haven’t chatted with. It was very nice meeting you, but I really should go over and say hi to them.” If you feel like you’re abandoning the other party completely, feel free to invite them to join you as you say hi to your other friends.
Not working #4: Double-dipping
Double-dipping is always bad form, especially during flu season. If this is the first time you’re hearing this, please watch the video
You could learn a lot about what not to do from George Costanza!
Not-working #5: Departing without saying goodbye
Don’t just abruptly leave a reception and especially a party, without first saying goodbye and thanking the host(s) (or event organizers). You should make a point of saying goodbye to all of your friends (new and old alike) and make a point of thanking the host(s).
Next week, some more not-workings, specifically network neglect…
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is part of a series based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.
#1. If you want to learn the conservative/libertarian movement, you have no better friend than www.policyexperts.org. Dubbed as “The Insider Guide to Public Policy Experts and Organizations,” Policy Experts, a tool created by The Heritage Foundation, is exactly that. But I’m always a little bit shocked at how literal the “insider” part is. Almost none of the networkers or job seekers I speak to have heard of it! With 789 organizations and 2591 experts in an easy to use database, this web site is pure platinum for networking within the movement.
This online directory is searchable by name, affiliation, location or issue expertise. Want to focus your networking and job search to Pennsylvania only? Well, with two clicks, Policy Experts tells you that there are 26 organizations to choose from. Just graduated law school and want to do a nationwide search of public interest litigation groups? Well, you’ve got 41 potential employers to consider. Interviewing at a think tank and want to know the interest areas of a few of the scholars there or even want to take a peek at some of their resumes? Policy Experts lets you do that, too. Or maybe you want to contact someone at one of the non-profit organizations listed for an informational interview? You can do that too! (Follow the advice I provided about LinkedIn and tweak it: http://americasfuture.org/freethefuture/2013/01/10/networking-advice-how-to-best-use-linkedin)
Additionally, the Policy Experts web site allows you to click through to each organization’s web site. So if you’re interested in learning more about American Enterprise Institute, you just click on the hyperlink and it takes you to www.aei.org. Once there, you can investigate to see if there’s a section that says “Opportunities,” “Employment,” “Jobs,” or “Careers.” At the very least, you’ll find out about groups you had no idea even existed and at best can discover some wonderful job opportunities in the movement to apply for.
www.policyexperts.org is ridiculously underutilized! Go there, bookmark it, and use it for all of its potential!
#2. Every year, thousands of people descend on a DC-area hotel for the Conservative Political Action Conference (it’s at National Harbour in MD this March 14-16) and obviously CPAC is not exactly obscure. Thousands sit in on conservative luminaries giving wonderful speeches to packed rooms, dine at banquets, and attend after-parties like Reaganpalooza, and no one would deny all of these are great networking opportunities. But, I would argue that the single best networking location during CPAC is the exhibit hall. Yes, the exhibit hall! It’s not just for getting conservative swag and stealing candy from the exhibitors when they’re not looking! It’s the best place to network during the entirety of the conference.
How do you network in the CPAC exhibit hall? A week or so before the conference, take a look at which organizations are going to exhibit. Research each a bit in advance (and yes, Policy Experts is a fine tool to use for this purpose!) and then show up to the exhibit hall and introduce yourself to the employees working on behalf of their organizations during the conference. While exhibiting on behalf of The Federalist Society, I’ve had several people walk up to me confidently, compliment the wonderful organization for which I work and then tell me a little spiel about themselves, inform me they’re looking for work, and ask me if they could give me a copy of their resume should there be an opening at The Federalist Society. And you know what? I passed their resumes along and forwarded them around every time.
Wait a second? Isn’t that pushy? I wouldn’t characterize it as pushy. It shows gumption. Remember when you go into the exhibit hall, some of the exhibitors are stuck behind their booth table for three full days! They’re bored! Ask them about their work and get to know them and their organizations. I’ve met many wonderful people at CPAC or other conferences like that, and the exhibit hall is a great place. Take advantage of that boredom and make new friends. You can really meet many people in the movement this way, and from the ground up.
For the impatient, this’ll give you an idea of which groups have sponsored in the past and are likely to be there this year:
Every year, you’ll find me in the CPAC exhibit hall. I’ll listen to that awesome Rand Paul speech online after the conference.
Next week…A list of networking no-nos or “not-workings”…
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is part of a series based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.
One of the trickiest things networkers have to contend with is getting their emails or letters to actually be read by their target. We’ve all heard the joke about cover letters and resumes ending up in the dreaded “circular file,” and unfortunately that circular file is very much a reality. So how do you make sure your email or letter isn’t deleted or tossed away?
The most effective way to get an email read is to do one simple thing. Name drop the right way! And this is done by dropping the name of someone your target is connected to in the subject line of the email. So for example, “Joseph Smith referral” in the subject line of your introduction email. I’m going to read that email if I’m friends with Joseph Smith (and even more so, if I’m Mormon.) Let’s suppose I’m not close friends with Joseph Smith, but I know him professionally.
Well, I still don’t want to disrespect him by not responding to a connection of his. Washington, DC is a small town after all! This simple subject line name-dropping trick increases the likelihood of a response significantly. In the body of your email, you should write about how Joseph suggested you two meet to discuss opportunities in the conservative movement in the DC-area or an interesting research project that you’ve been working on that pertains to your target’s line of work.
Apply the same principle with cover letters. The strongest way to begin a cover letter is with the following language: “Joseph Smith suggested I apply for the Assistant Director position at The Federalist Society.” That will hopefully trigger the following response: “Oh, Joe suggested you apply? This guy might be good. Let me take a look. Joe’s never steered us the wrong way in the past. Let’s see what this resume looks like…”
And since you’re sending out that Every Other Friday Email (EOFE), your network is tipping you off about networking prospects you should contact. And when your contacts share those names with you, you need to follow up with each and every one of them, and you need to do so immediately! After you’ve met with or spoken to each networking prospect, be sure to thank your referring contact and let him know how the meeting went.
I want to re-emphasize this point. If anyone is willing to share a lead with you, you must follow up immediately, even if you’re not interested in what the networking prospect does for a living and even if you’re not interested in working for the organization they work for. Why?! Because someone generously opened up their world of contacts to you and the least you can do is follow up. Everyone in DC is constantly asked for networking leads and if someone shares a name with you, consider it a high compliment.
Let’s say Jim opens up his “rolodex” for Suzy Flake. This simple action is actually a statement: “I trust you to not make me look bad by sharing my contacts with you.” And it makes Jim look bad if he has called his friend Melissa and told her that she’ll be hearing from this recent graduate, Suzy Flake, who’s looking to do Public Relations work in the Washington, DC area. A month later if Jim runs into Melissa at a reception, and she tells Jim that Miss Flake never contacted her, that makes Jim not take Suzy or her job search very seriously and she’s likely burned a bridge with Jim.
If Suzy can’t follow through on what should be the most important thing to her, why should anyone think she’s going to be any less flaky on the job? Additionally, Melissa may have known people who could have helped Suzy and now Jim isn’t going to look out anymore for Suzy since she’s obviously not proactive. So remember, don’t be a Flake! Name drop the right way and follow up with every networking prospect sent to you.
Next week, the two most underutilized networking tools in the conservative/libertarian movement…
The single most effective networking technique you can use is to keep your network informed about what you’re interested in! And for job hunters, there is one trick I absolutely recommend. This is not optional if you want to expedite your job search. Job hunters, you need to send out an Every Other Friday Email (EOFE). Look Mom, I created a brand new acronym in DC! The email should be a blind CC message to anyone in your network interested in your future and you should attach an updated version of your resume. Here’s an idea of what the body of the email should look like:
Thank you for all the support you’ve given me during my job search and thank you for continuing to keep an eye out for me as I am looking for employment in the Washington, DC area. In the last two weeks, I’ve applied for 35 positions. Of particular interest, are the following openings:
- Assistant Director, Practice Groups, The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies
- Associate Director, The Federalism Project, American Enterprise Institute
- Research Associate, The Hudson Institute
- Office Manager, Ethics & Public Policy Center
- Research Fellow, Cato Institute
- Assistant Development Director, Family Research Council
- Legislative Assistant, Hon. Justin Amash (I have an interview next Tuesday!)
- Membership Director, The Heritage Foundation
- Field Representative, Leadership Institute
If you happen to know of anyone connected to these offices and you are willing to put in a good word for me, I would greatly appreciate it. I have attached an updated version of my resume to this email. Thank you very much for all your support. I look forward to returning the favor one day.
Why is this so important? First, if you don’t do this, you will fall off of your network’s collective radar. People get slammed in this town and most work well beyond the normal 40 hour work week. It’s very easy for your network to get distracted with work and life and to forget about you…but only if you let them! Individuals in your network may have the best intentions when you speak to them, but most need a little nudge. Additionally, many of us in DC talk with a lot of job hunters, and if we don’t hear from you in a while, at best we optimistically assume you’ve found a job, and at worst, you become a blur.
If a friend contacts me and asks me to send him a healthy stack of resumes, it’s probably going to be the 20 most recent people I’ve heard from whose resumes I will send over. Why only the 20 most recent? Because there’s a limited amount of grey matter up in this skull of mine and I will probably forget you’re looking if I haven’t heard from you in a while. The most recent people I’ve heard from are still likely to be looking and are a lot easier for me to remember. So be sure to reassert yourself every two weeks to the top of the pile! Many people will want to help you, but there’s a good possibility that they will forget about you if you don’t remind them, so don’t allow that to happen. Yes, you may have indeed had a great conversation or meeting with someone you met with over lunch, but if more than two weeks pass by, you’re allowing yourself to be forgotten.
There’s another reason I’m likely to only send the 20 most recent people whom I’ve heard from. Here’s a typical scenario…I get an email on a Friday after lunch from a friend at a think tank: “Peter, we’ve got an Associate position opening up here. Can you send me a good pile of resumes by COB today? We need someone with 1-3 years of experience.” Now, I don’t have time to check with every job seeker in my network to find out if they’re still looking, so the ones who’ve let me know that they’re still looking will get sent over and the ones who haven’t kept me in the loop won’t. Why? Because in the past, I’ve included ones I haven’t heard from in a month or so and the following Monday or Tuesday, my think tank friend emails me: “Hey, Dumbass! Why’d you send me a stack full of resumes of people who’ve already got jobs?” Well, I didn’t know these individuals had found jobs because they didn’t tell me (a huge networking no-no). And while the smiley face in my friend’s email lessens the blow of the name calling, I’d prefer high school nicknames to remain in high school. Anyway, that’s why I don’t send out “non-fresh” resumes. I imagine that’s likely the case for others as well.
Second, sending out this EOFE is important because it keeps you accountable. Job hunting is fatiguing, and it is very tempting to take a break from it. But if you know you have to dutifully report and “show your math” every two weeks to your network, you’re going to continue to apply for positions. This forces you to be a tortoise and not a hare in the job search, steadily getting to your goal line and not sporadically applying/resting/disappearing/re-applying/re-appearing. The tortoise wins the race and job hunting tortoise gets the job! Additionally, having a number of accountability partners keeps you honest and forces you to consistently apply for jobs. And sending out this email every two weeks demonstrates excellent follow through. Just like in any sport that requires a ball, whatever happens after you’ve made contact with the ball is just as important as what precedes it (your initial contact). Your energy needs to continue if you’re going to succeed. Plus, people will admire your hustle—you’re not looking for the job hunting equivalent of a handout, so it gains you the respect of your conservative/libertarian network.
Third, by informing your network about where you’re applying, you’re enabling them to help you. By bullet-pointing a handful or two of the jobs you’ve applied to, you’re creating the opportunity to allow your network to email or call on your behalf and vouch for you. You need to help people help you! We’ve all heard that DC is all about who you know, right? The problem is that most people think all that is required is the following: “If I could just meet with John Doe, that’d solve all my job searching woes. He’ll just circulate my resume to everyone.” It’s a nice thought, but in all likelihood, unless John Doe (yeah, that guy again) is a professional headhunter, he doesn’t have all that much time to shop your resume around. About once or twice a year the stars line up, and someone gets hired just by getting their resume immediately in front of me, but generally speaking you’ve got to do your own homework and show your math every two weeks by checking in with me and the others in your network. Eventually it works out and at a much speedier rate than it would otherwise.
Think about how this EOFE is structured. If Mike sends me an email like the one above, how long does it take now for me to contact my friend Bridgett at Heritage and inform her that Mike has applied for the Membership Director position? Let’s see…I type in Bri in my address book, my address book pulls up her email address, and now I can quickly send her an email and attach the resume Mike just sent me with a brief note: “Hi, Bridgett. I met with this Mike Ike guy a few weeks ago. He seemed really sharp and apparently applied for the Membership Director position at THF. Just wanted to put him on your radar.” How long does that take me? Not even 60 seconds. Make it easy for people to help you! Bottom line: if there’s an opening in an office, you need to be someone’s horse in the race or even better, have several advocates vouching for you. Other applicants will do the same thing, so try to outnumber them with your own referrals. No office wants to make a bad hire, so good words from trusted contacts go a long way.
Some people have told me that they don’t like the idea of sending out a list of the jobs for which they’re applying. Obviously don’t send this list out to direct competition, but not informing your network about where you’re applying is like keeping your blockbuster screenplay locked in a drawer because you don’t want anyone to steal your idea. At some point, you’ve got to share it if you want it to be made into a movie! Don’t keep your career locked in a drawer either by not telling people where you’ve applied.
A few other pointers about doing an EOFE. Why BCC it? Simply put, no one individual in your network is being put on the spot this way, but you are still keeping them informed.
Why every other week? Every week would probably be too frequent. Nobody minds polite persistence and two weeks is the right balance.
Why Friday? In DC, Friday tends to be the slowest day of the week, and people are in a good mood since the weekend is coming. Basically, your email is more likely to be read and your resume is more likely to be forwarded on a Friday.
Why attach a resume every other week? Well, people misplace resumes all the time. I have dropped emails containing resumes in the wrong Outlook folder and stored PDFs in the wrong folder in my computer. It’s all about making it easy for your network to help you.
This is the single most effective job technique. People that do the EOFE get hired much quicker than people who don’t. Ignore this advice at your peril. Don’t allow yourself to fall off the radar. DC is a fast moving town and it will let you be forgotten if you don’t follow through. So, follow through and stay on the radar by sending your EOFE!
Next week: OPEN SESAME! How to get your emails and cover letters to strangers read!
Not enough of you are networking through LinkedIn. Think about it. Why do people sign up for LinkedIn when pretty much everyone is already on Facebook? Because they want to remember yet another password?
People are on LinkedIn for one of two reasons. They either are unemployed and looking for work or they’re worried that one day they’re going to be unemployed and looking for work. Basically, they’ve joined the LinkedIn for insurance purposes so they can have all of their professional connections listed in one convenient place should an emergency arise. That means they’re more likely to be helpful to you, since you may be in a position to return the favor one day. And unlike Facebook, where you may have your account frozen for contacting total strangers, LinkedIn encourages the practice by encouraging you to link to others through your other connections and associations.
So what should you do? First, create an account and lift the job descriptions from your resume to build your profile. Then search for friends of yours and link to them. Next join the alumni group from your undergraduate institution, and any graduate schools you’ve attended. Then join groups you identify with like The Federalist Society group, The Heritage Foundation group, your local political party group, etc. Once you’ve done that, take a look and check out where your friends work, other alums work, fellow Heritage Foundation group members work, etc.
Find the commonalities and start emailing total strangers. Something like: “Please excuse this email from a total stranger, but I noticed that you’re a Resident Scholar at the Hudson Institute working on national defense. As a fellow University of Dallas alum interested in working on national defense issues, could you please recommend some other organizations I should consider applying to when I relocate to Washington, DC next month? I’m trying to get a good jump start and prove that one can still do something useful with a liberal arts degree! I look forward to hearing back from you.”
The idea is to let the recipient know a little about yourself, what you’re looking for and ask him if he might be kind enough to share advice, job leads, etc. Keep it short and sweet and don’t ever ask someone for a job directly. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask how someone got where he is and for advice about places you should consider applying. From what people who use LinkedIn regularly tell me, you can expect a 25% response rate. Only 25%? Hey, direct mail is 1-2% and that’s considered successful!
Isn’t this embarrassing? No, embarrassing is going out in public wearing a “Dennis Kucinich for President” t-shirt or standing in line at Best Buy and purchasing Jersey Shore: The Complete Series Pack. There’s absolutely no shame in being proactive in your networking or job search. Well, what about those 75% who don’t respond? Don’t worry about them!
Basically, if they’re too lazy or busy to respond, they’re not going to have the energy to memorize your name. And the ones who do respond are pure platinum and tend to be the most helpful people around. Remember, you’ve got to put yourself out there! I know many people who’ve made valuable contacts and even found their jobs by using LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn, click here to get linked up right now…
Next week: The single most effective networking/job hunting technique you can utilize.
If you’re attending receptions, especially as an unemployed job seeker, portray confidence. Who wants an unconfident lawyer, policy analyst, etc. after all? The first question that everyone knows you’re asked in DC is almost always “What do you do?” I’ve noticed that a lot of people hate that about DC and job seekers, in particular, go into their shells like turtles when asked this question.
Refuse to cower if you get this question. Some get bent out of shape about this inquiry since they believe it’s superficial. And some really don’t like it when they’re unemployed because it makes them feel like they just got smoked out. “Oh no, I’ve been found out! They know I’ve come here to try to find a job!” they think. I really don’t believe people mean the “What do you do?” question superficially. I think they’re just trying to figure out who you have in common like when someone looks up mutual friends on Facebook.
If you think about it, “What do you do?” is actually a great question for you as a job seeker or someone looking to advance your career. You get to tell your conversation partner what sorts of opportunities you’re looking for, so have a little spiel prepared. “I actually just graduated from law school and relocated to DC to look for work on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Counsel or with a conservative or libertarian public interest litigating group. What about yourself? Where are you from? What do you do?”
At receptions, I always like to ask people where they’re from. Most people like their hometown and enjoy telling you about it. Additionally, it puts them in a good mood and allows more arenas of conversation to open up besides the usual law and politics we’re so accustomed to in DC. Now that you’re talking about your conversation partner’s hometown, you can always talk about sports, rib them about their inferior Chicago-style pizza, etc.
If you’re unemployed (and that could happen to any of us in this economy), absolutely do not tell others that you want “any job” when they ask you what you want to do. Besides making it sound like you don’t know what on earth you want to do with your life, it does nothing to focus the listener and if that was really the case, you wouldn’t be looking. You’d be stocking shelves somewhere or flipping burgers.
The key is to be broad, yet specific. “In an ideal world, I’d be working on labor issues at Department of Labor or National Right to Work, but I’m also interested in event planning and scheduling.” That immediately hones the listener. What you want to do is get their synapses firing. “Who do I know at DOL and NRTW? Do I know any conference planners at CPAC, Values Voters Conference or any Congressional offices with openings or people this person can listen to?” Hopefully your broad yet specific description results in some new friends sharing leads with you. “Oh, you really should talk to my good buddy John! He used to work at DOL and he can tell you all about how to apply and which offices to target.”
If you have a pleasant conversation that lasts a few minutes, ask your conversation partner for his card. If he wants yours, he will ask for it. A day or two later (2 days max), send an email letting him know you enjoyed meeting him and you hope to remain in contact. If there’s a good way to follow up beyond that, do so. So if you talked about what a great season the Nats are having, forward your new friend an article about the Nationals upcoming schedule, an article about Bryce Harper, etc. Wait for a response.
Another thing! Don’t toss out those business cards you collect at receptions. When you arrive home, get in the habit of writing on the back of the business cards you’ve collected. Jot down anything you can remember about the person, his line of work, your conversation, etc. If you hear from him and receive a cordial response, feel free to add your new friend on LinkedIn and Facebook. Stay tuned for more about LinkedIn next week…
I know that when I first arrived to town, I felt doubly awkward introducing myself to people at receptions because I’m a somewhat shy person and I lacked confidence since I was embarrassed that I was arriving to town as an unemployed law student. I had no idea how ahead of my time I was!
Speaking of being ahead of my time, that’s my tip for this week. Be ahead of the time, as in show up exactly 5 minutes early to receptions. That’s right, DO NOT BE FASHIONABLY LATE. Be fashionably early. It’s ok to be fashionably late if you’re attending a ball and want to make a grand entrance. Other than that, please show up early.
Showing up early is important for a few reasons. One, it allows you to meet the organizers of the event who work for these wonderful organizations. If you’re in the movement or want to be in the movement…show up early and guess what? You’ll meet other people in the movement! And these are great organizations, so get to know the people running these groups from the ground up! The other advantage to showing up early is that it allows you to make your own crowd when you arrive.
Typically very few people show up right at the beginning because they’ve received the “fashionably late” advice. But a few people haven’t heard that advice or disregard it and when those few arrive, you’ll be the only two or three people there. So start your own crowd. You’re the only ones there, after all. Think about it. It’s much easier than showing up late and standing on the outside of someone else’s circle hoping you’ll get invited to join into their conversation. Arrive early, form your own circle, and once you’ve got it formed, invite the new arrivals into yours and make some more friends. They’ll be appreciative of the gesture. That’s a great way to deal with the shyness issue.
But how do you deal with the insecurities that arrive when you’re job seeking? We’ll cover that next week….
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is the second in a series, based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.
Networking. It’s such a dirty word. And with good reason—a lot of people are doing it the wrong way! I first learned how networking isn’t done during my first day in a Capitol Hill office when an oil lobbyist shook my hand and slid his business card into my palm, saying, “Hi there, Peter! Mind if I call you Pete?” My first thought was “Wow, apparently some stereotypes do exist for a reason.” And my second one was, “Actually, I do mind. I bet this guy thinks he’s a really smooth networker.” That isn’t what I’d call networking; it’s what I would call “not-working.” If you’re still reading after the pun, allow me to give you a number of networking tips that I hope you will find useful.
First things first. If you want to network, you have to show up and you need to know where to show up! Just like your muscles won’t get exercise if you don’t hit the gym, your networking isn’t going to develop if you’re not regularly attending events. If you’re not consistently attending receptions, you’re missing out.
When I relocated to DC years ago, I barely knew anyone, but the nice thing about DC is that almost everyone is from somewhere else, so it’s literally the easiest place in the country to meet people and make new friends. DC attracts all types of people, but for people interested in the conservative/libertarian movement like the readers of this blog, there are a ton of places for you to go to network. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find here in the DC-area. In fact, there’s pretty much something going on every night of the week.
All of these organizations regularly have speaker events with receptions (frequently no charge) before or after their programs:
American Enterprise Institute
America’s Future Foundation
Conservatism on Tap (Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s DC Alumni Chapter)
Conservative Women’s luncheon sponsored by Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute at The Heritage Foundation
Federalist Society (monthly DC Lawyers luncheon, Young Lawyers Chapter cocktail receptions, Practice Group events at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill Chapter luncheons and evening receptions)
It’s First Friday monthly happy hours
Leadership Institute (monthly Wednesday wake-up club breakfasts, weekend training schools and monthly happy hours)
Young Republicans (DC, Arlington/Fairfax, etc.)
Banquets and national conferences like CPAC, ,Values Voters, Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the Dream Summit, Federalist Society’s annual National Lawyers Convention, Faith & Freedom Conference, Right Online, etc.
Also, feel free to join my email list. Email me at Peter.Redpath@gmail.com and I’ll happily add you to a list I send out about once a week which lists a fairly inclusive listing of events around town.
The nice thing about attending these events, particularly in the conservative/libertarian movement is that if you show up to enough events over a short period of time and are half-way social, you can make a lot of new friends. The key is to consistently show up to events over a short period of time. Think about how easily you’ve forgotten another’s name and face before. Typically it’s not for a lack of trying. It’s because it’s actually hard to remember all those names and faces, especially if there’s been a passage of time! It’s much easier for you to be memorable when you’re a regular. Think about your neighborhood bar. Even the bartender knows the dud at the bar’s name, and that’s simply because he’s a regular. Become a regular! And don’t be a dud!
More on that in a future post…
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is the first in a series, based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.
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